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What Tommy Lloyd, Oumar Ballo and KJ Lewis said after Arizona’s win over Cal

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-cal-golden-bears-tommy-lloyd-oumar-ballo-kj-lewis-pac12-2024 Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Arizona remained unbeaten at McKale Center this season, easily beating Cal 91-65 to improve to 11-0 on its home court.

“I thought they had a really mature approach tonight,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said of his team, which improved to 16-5 overall and 7-3 in Pac-12 play.

Our game recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd, center Oumar Ballo and guard KJ Lewis had to say afterward:

Lloyd on if Arizona is starting to look like the team it was early in the season: “I’m not worried about November or December. This is February, it’s time to start playing consistently really good basketball, and I told the guys that’s what you do in February. You’re building, and you’re building for March and then hopefully building for April. That has to be the mindset. I think our guys are starting to settle in and kind of recalibrate a little bit.”

On staying in first place in the Pac-12: “Anytime you have a chance to compete for a championship you consider it. Fortunately for us, it’s not the BCS where only a few teams get into the tournament. Obviously, the ultimate goal is get into the NCAA Tournament and play as long as you can, but if there’s a championship on the line, we’re going to compete for it.”

On being aggressive in the paint: “That’s our game plan for us every game. Whether we attack the paint on penetration, transition, post up, we love to do that. We want to establish kind of our advantages, and I think our guys did a good job of that.”

On Oumar Ballo: “When Oumar plays with the effort and energy he has the past couple games, I mean, we’re a different team. I think his key just comes down to energy, effort and outworking people. You put energy and effort with that force and that mass, and that’s a problem. I thought he played a really clean game. He was really difficult for them to handle today.”

On the guard play: “I thought Pelle (Larsson) and Caleb (Love) did a really good job just kind of settling into the game, not trying to do too much. Sometimes you have really good experienced players, they get in those games and ... they’re good enough players that they have some freedom, so maybe they take advantage of it sometimes. But today I think they really settled in and played great team basketball.”

On Kylan Boswell being more aggressive: “We love Kylan when he’s doing that, and I think it’s an area he can continue to grow. The more experience he gets doing that the more experience he gets making real-game decisions. The decisions weren’t always perfect today, but as he gets the experience he’ll be better.”

On the bench contributions: “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses in what they can bring to the table. Ultimately, we want to put people in the position that they’re playing to their strengths. And I thought they did that tonight. For us, ball movement and player movement kind of help us negotiate that and find other teams’ weaknesses. I thought we had a few really good possessions tonight where ... maybe it felt like a broken play but it ended up with a really solid decision. I think KJ was the recipient of one, and made a three kind of right in front of me in that second half, and that was kind of my highlight of the day.”

On not being able to get freshmen Paulius Murauskas and Conrad Martinez more playing time: “Of course I’d like to get them more minutes. But ultimately, we’re trying to build to team to a championship, so sometimes I gotta make tough decisions. Those guys are really good players, and it doesn’t do them justice just to go in at the end of a game. They both have been practicing really well. Conrad’s has made tremendous strides in practice. Like every one of our guys would tell you, he’s a pain in the ass.”

On keeping players happy in the transfer portal era: “I have a job to do the best job I can for the University of Arizona with this basketball program. So I’m gonna have to make tough choices. We have great kids and we have honest conversations with them. I think Steve Kerr is one of the smartest guys I know, and he had a player complaining about his role, and Steve was like, ‘well, I was unhappy for 15 years in the NBA with my role.’ It’s a high-level competitive game, and unfortunately you can’t make everybody happen or satisfied.”

On Keshad Johnson holding Pac-12 scoring leader Jaylon Tyson to 10 points: “I’m not saying we did anything crazy on him today, but we switched some stuff up. I really wanted to challenge Keshad with that matchup. And obviously we had Pelle in our back pocket if it didn’t work out, but I thought Keshad did a great job. He’s really kind of coming into his own as a player. You’re kind of expected this production every night for him on the offensive end, and he plays great defense.”

On Arizona winning by 26 with Caleb Love only scoring 12: “For me that’s really cool. I mean, I don’t mind Caleb having good games. I thought he was 36 points at Oregon was tremendous, because I thought it all came within the flow of the game. He’s playing with tremendous efficiency and tremendous confidence right now. In the course that game I thought there was a couple times he could have pressed. He took a tough two-for-one at the end of the first half, and I talked to him about that. He knew it wasn’t right. I mean, he’s a special player. Like I said earlier, he looks every bit the part of a first-team All-American to me.”

On the rematch with Stanford on Sunday: “They’re a good team. They’re dangerous. I watch them on film and I’m not comfortable, and so we got to figure out in the next 48 hours to prepare how to come out and play a better game against them than we did last time. I mean, hopefully they got our guys’ attention this time around.”

Ballo on they key his performance: “I had a great week working out with (Riccardo Fois).”

On wins like this: “It feels great. It feels like team basketball.”

On getting the ball into the paint: “The more paint touches we get the better chances we have to draw a foul or get easy baskets.”

On fans cheering for him before, during and after free throws: “I know people here want me to make those free throws more than I do. Now matter how high or how low they’re going to stand up for you.”

Lewis on if Arizona is playing more like it did in November and December: “For sure, I feel like we’re getting that rhythm back that we had in the back. We’re getting that joy back, we’re getting that competitive nature back. It’s February, it’s time to kick things up a notch.”

On the key to contributing off the bench: “Just trying to find different ways to impact, whether it’s on the defensive end, make plays for my teammates. I think that’s just my job to come in with effort and energy.”

On facing Stanford again: “We’re not trying to look ahead or forward to anything, but we have it in the back of our minds.”